Ever heard of the term “Password fatigue”? It refers to a condition when people are forced to remember multiple passwords. In a 2014 survey by Intermedia, it was found that an organization provides access to a minimum of 15 applications to each of its employees on an average. This means that every employee of an organization needs to remember 15 different credentials every day. Not only does this create password fatigue for the employees but it also creates various challenges putting the network and organization’s data in a vulnerable position through this cumbersome process. Single Sign-On, referred to as SSO solves this problem effortlessly.
Single sign-on has not only solved the many problems faced by employees but has become an important part of the organization’s security program. It can be described as a software solution that gives users single access to various portals through one login and credentials. By decreasing the number and frequency of login attempts, the number of errors comes down, and eventually, network safety is increased. Along with good network safety, an SSO also brings with it several advantages. Let us get to know a few of them:
Benefits of SSO:
- Healthy password practices:  The SSO reduces the risk of password fatigue and poor password practices as only a single login attempt are required instead of multiple login attempts. This actually enables users to come up with strong passwords as there is no cumbersome process involved with credentials.
- Aids compliance process:  We all know that compliance and risk management go hand-in-hand. The SSO aids in maintaining compliance in the organization. There is constant monitoring of access management and it ensures compliance within the organization, thus aiding in better management of cyber risk.
- Password, and beyond:  The SSO is not just about a single access point and credential management. The right SSO solution can even lead to the elimination of credentials totally, through new advancements like OTP-based login, biometric, etc. Organizations have the option to gain better network security by opting for various techniques like two-factor authentication (2FA), multi-factor authentication (MFA). Such techniques can prove to be a breakthrough to an organization’s cyber security practices.
- Increased speed:  There is a need for highly efficient systems with high speed in industries such as defense, emergency services, hospitality, medicine, etc. due to the huge amount of operations and the quick nature of work involved. SSO not only saves time from repetitive tasks and prevents errors by providing single access to multiple platforms to a huge amount of employees at the same time, but it also increases the efficiency of their operations by preventing cyber-attacks and intrusions.
- Increased productivity:  By using the SSO, the complexities of mundane routine tasks like remembering multiple credentials, multiple login attempts due to frequent session time-outs, waiting for support from the IT team, etc. are eliminated and in turn, the speed and productivity of employees increase.
- Easy usage:  With SSO, there is no worry of having to memorize 10 different credentials for 10 different applications or having to log in 15 times again when a session times out. Users can enjoy real ease of use, which in turn induces better cyber safe practices and behavior.
- Enabling cyber security in a timely manner:  We are well aware of the kind of sudden surge of pressure that the IT teams had to face during the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. Due to the contingent nature of arrangements that they had to come up with in a short span of time, the burden on the IT team to provide support increased drastically.
Due to this kind of change in situation and expectations, many IT teams had to compromise on the quality of network security they could provide. It can be said that the importance and highlight on cyber security and data protection saw a sudden fall, especially in a time when it was required the most due to the fact that even day-to-day operations proved to be a herculean task to them with the many limitations the “work-from-home culture” brought in. This problem can be resolved with an SSO solution, as it eliminates most of the troubleshooting process and enables an easier diagnosis that can be taken up on a self-help basis. This way, day-to-day operations can be normalized and data security can be given the due importance it requires.
- Preventing significant losses:  It is an evident fact that SSO improves network security and decreases the risk of data breaches. Organizations gain by avoiding financial and goodwill loss, which would otherwise be caused through cyber-attacks.
- User account management:  Not only does it help at times of emergency, but also it maintains an orderly manner of credential management during the onboarding and exit of employees in a normal situation. With the SSO, managing user-profiles and accounts becomes hassle-free, thus breaking down complexities.
- IT costs:  When the process of login and credential management is simplified, the need for troubleshooting in areas like credential management, help desk support, ticket resolutions, etc. reduces. This way, the organization can reduce IT costs.
Gaining the most of it:
While the SSO can prove to be one solution to multiple issues, an organization looking to implement an SSO must take a few extra steps in order to get the most of it. Let us take a look at what these extra steps are how these small steps can go a long way in extracting the best for the organization:
- Enforcing strong passwords:  Although it is an SSO that makes the intrusion process difficult and provides better network security, the whole network would be compromised even if an intruder manages to crack one single user credential. This is why the management must always enforce extra-strong password practices for its employees to prevent endangering any user.
- Caution while choosing an SSO solution:  Choosing the right SSO solution is very crucial as in an SSO, authentication, and access to all the applications or portals of the organization are singular. This means that if one portal is facing an issue, access to the rest of the applications will also be delayed. To avoid this, the SSO solution chosen by the organization must be highly reliable and contingency plans for business continuity must be placed properly.
- Connected authentication, connected access, and connected risks:  A single intrusion not only means all users are endangered, it also means that all the applications connected through the SSO are also at risk open to the attacker. Just strong password practices are not sufficient to avoid this kind of classic failure situation, selecting a high-quality service provider with high-quality network security goes a long way.
- Set-up process:  The set-up process for an SSO can be quite time and effort-consuming. The bigger the organization, the more complex the process. Caution must be taken while doing tasks like linking the identity provider to the service provider.